When a plane carrying more than 200 Americans who were evacuated from Wuhan because of the deadly coronavirus landed in Alaska on Tuesday, the passengers reportedly “erupted in cheers” from relief and joy. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, described the scene as “a moving and uplifting experience” when the plane crew announced, “Welcome home to the United States.” The airline, a Kalitta Air Boeing 747, then took off for the March Air Reserve Base in California’s Riverside County, near Los Angeles. The flight was organized by the U.S. State Department to bring home diplomats, their families, and other Americans who were trapped in Wuhan, where the fast-growing outbreak originated. The American passengers have undergone four health screenings—two in Wuhan and two after they arrived in Anchorage.
Before flying to their final destination, they were “approved to continue on to California by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services said Wednesday, adding that the passengers will be screened again in California and “temporarily housed for a period of time.” There are more than 6,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, which has killed 132 people, around the world. Wuhan has been placed under a virtual lockdown to prevent the spread of the disease.